Always start with a deposit – typically 50%. This guarantees your time and services. Before sending over the final project, ensure you collect the remaining 50% first.
- (You don’t need to do this exact split, but collecting 50-100% upfront is the most straightforward way to ensure timely payment and a quality client)
Use a contract, and in it, stipulate that the intellectual property is yours and usage is illegal until payment in full is received.
- Clarify your payment schedule and refund policy in the same contract
- Attaching payment to milestones is an excellent practice for larger projects
- If a client is curious why you don’t offer refunds, clarify the time investment and that you have to turn down other work to complete this project.
Make it as easy as possible for the client to pay (e.g. Paypal, Stripe, Bonsai).
Automate reminders for the client to pay.
Until the client signs the contract and pays your deposit, do NOT start work.
- This stage is where you spend your time understanding, evaluating, and explaining things to the client.
- Once they pay, you should take a more active role.
As always, don’t give them any legitimate reasons not to pay you. Communicate, be on time, and produce quality work.
Clients who have issues paying at the start are likely to have issues paying you at the end of a project. Trust your gut in these instances.
As you get more experience, learn what to charge for, and what to offer as a free bonus.
Friendly emails and phone calls will cover you the vast majority of the time. The more direct the communication method, the harder it is to ignore.